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#TBT | A Short Story

I started blogging back in 2002 and I became friends with a wonderful bunch of people – a lot of which I am still friends with to this day. (I plan on writing about a post about my blogging days of the past at some point.) Anyway, we had a monthly “Homework Assignment” that everyone would do and post on the due date. It was always so much fun to see what everyone would post about. I still have all these pictures, posts, etc. because I never get rid of anything and I will occasionally go through them and see what I come across.

This is going to be a busy-ish kind of week for me, so I thought I would share something from the past with you all. This was written in October 2014 and we were given the start of a story and we had to write a spooky story based on it.

This was mine…

“Not being able to sleep this one night a few years back during Halloween, I twisted and turned in bed and turning toward the hallway I noticed a dim light coming from the kitchen. Rising from my bed I decided to walk to the kitchen and see what could have possibly turned the light dimmer on.”

I glanced over at the clock; 4:23am and I groaned. It was almost time for me to get up for work and I hadn’t gotten any sleep. I was going to need a lot of coffee to get me through the day. My husband, sleeping soundly has never understood my insomnia. “Just shut off your mind and sleep” he says, but what he didn’t understand was that my mind wasn’t the problem. I simply couldn’t sleep because the sounds of nighttime.

I hear everything. Every night I lay in bed and I close my eyes and I listen. I hear the tick-tock of the clock in the hallway. I hear the neighbor’s dog barking outside. Cars passing by at all hours of the night.

It was my idea to move into the city that never sleeps. Looking back, had I known I would never sleep here too, I don’t think I would have been so eager to move. “I want to be near it all” I told my husband as we packed up our small home in the suburbs and moved into the city. I placed my feet on the cold hardwood floor and a shiver ran up my spine. I glanced at the clock again as I made my way out of the bedroom; 4:23am.

As I walked down the hallway towards the kitchen, I saw a stack of medical bills sitting on the table. “They aren’t going to disappear, so just go through them and see the damage” I thought to myself. A few months ago I was having a lot of headaches and the doctor sent me for tests. My anxiety got the best of me and I spent days thinking that this was the end. I was never going to see tomorrow and I cried constantly. The day the tests came back negative was a huge sigh of relief but without health insurance we needed to pay out of pocket. I feared for how much it would cost us. The headaches are still here but at least we know it’s not cancer. We’re still in the process of finding the cause.

I approached the end of the hall and the tick-tock of the grandfather clock greeted me; 4:23am. I could hear the ticking of the clock down the hall and I mumbled to myself, “I should turn it off and maybe I could get some sleep.” I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  I inherited the clock from my grandparents and the ticking sound reminded me of my childhood. The clock was in the hallway outside their spare bedroom where I slept. Even then I would lay awake and listen to the tick-tock of it all night long. The tick-tock is still here but my grandparents are gone, so I hold onto the sound as a soft reminder of them.

As I approached the kitchen, I felt the cat brush up against my legs and could hear the hum from the refrigerator. It was possible that I simply forgot to turn the light off since I was emotionally and physically exhausted by the time I went to bed. I had gotten a call from a friend around 10pm. She was in hysterics because her beloved dog was hit and killed on the road in front of her house. I stayed on the phone and listened to her cry for over an hour before she decided she needed to lay down. I felt terrible for her but I was thankful because I needed sleep myself. My head was pounding by the time I made it to my bed.

There was nothing unusual in the kitchen and everything looked as it did when I went to bed. The dishes in the strainer were now dry and darn it, I had left the milk out on counter. I felt it and it was warm already. “Oh well, it was almost empty anyway.” I turned off the light and walked out of the room. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. “Oh grandpa, I have missed you these past 18 years” I thought to myself as I looked at the time; 4:23am.

I was still in a sleepy daze as I made my way back down the hallway; this time fully dark since I shut the light off in the kitchen. I reminded myself to pick my foot up at the end of the hall table. If I didn’t, I surely would step on the cat’s tail.

I entered our bedroom and I glanced at my husband, still sleeping soundly. I noticed that I too was laying there in the bed; Or at least it appeared to be me. I stood there for a moment and that’s when I realized I wasn’t awake. I thought I must be dreaming and then it dawned on me; “Could I be dead?” The thought terrified me as I starred at my body laying in the bed. Another quick glance at the clock; 4:23am and I look back at the bed. I am laying there with my hair all over the place and I couldn’t tell if I am breathing. “Dear Lord, am I breathing or not?” I panicked because I couldn’t tell from my distance.

“I am too young to die. I just want to live.” is what I wanted to scream but instead I couldn’t only stand there. Thoughts raced through my mind as I continued to hear the clock in the hall. Tick-tock. “The doctor could have been wrong. Maybe it was brain cancer. The headaches after all are still here and I read about a case where the the CT scans were switched and the “healthy” person died.” Tick-Tock. “Maybe I did have cancer and I died in my sleep.” Tick-tock. “What do I do now? Where do I go?” Tick-tock. “If I really am dead, shouldn’t I be in Heaven by now?” Tick-Tock. “I am going to Heaven, right?”

Every moment in my life flashed before my eyes. I was reminded of the bad things I had done in my life. The time I drove past that lady struggling with her groceries. I should have stopped and helped her; instead I was tired and just wanted to go home. Or the time that I forgot I had that pack of gum in my hand and I walked out without paying for it. Surely, God would understand and let me in anyway, right? Tick-tock.

My mind flashed to the first time I saw my husband and our eyes met. Later on, we both said that from that first glance we knew we would grow old with each other. “Grow old with each other” I said to myself. I was only 34 years old. Certainly not old enough to die in my sleep. “Oh dear, am really I dead?” Tick-tock. Another quick glance at the clock; 4:23am. “How is time moving so slowly? Is time even relevant when you’re dead?” Tick-tock.

My head was spinning as the thoughts raced from one thing to the next. I couldn’t move and but I needed to see for myself if I was alive or not. I took a single step forward…

I opened my eyes slowly. I stared at the wall. It was dark except for the glow of the alarm clock on the side table. 4:23am. I could hear the faint ticking of the clock in the hallway and the breathing of my husband. I lay motionless in my bed; staring at the clock. “Please tell me I was dreaming” The neon glow from the numbers burned into my eyes as I stared. Finally, it changed. 4:24am. “Thank God” I sighed and I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

I hope you enjoyed my story and have a great day!

XOXO, Jules

comments +

  1. Wynne says:

    Hi Jules,

    Oh my goodness, I enjoyed your story so much! You write so well. I love writing, too. I haven’t written anything new lately, though. Your story reminds me of when I wrote fan fiction with several other ladies (it was Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman themed). It turned out to be a very long ‘short story’ lol.

    We had sooo much fun, though. I have so many wonderful memories of blogging times! The Homework assignments were amazing. I still have my Homework link on my site lol:

    Have a super awesome rest of the week!

  2. Julie Stuart says:

    Thanks Wynne! This was actually inspired by something that had happened to me. I had woken up in the middle of the night to absolute darkness. There appeared to be no light in the room and I physically could not see anything. Thoughts raced through my mind that I was suddenly blind. Like for real, I just lost my vision. I was scared to turn on the lights and find out. My brain was going a mile a minute about what happened to me. Was I where I thought I was? I couldn’t really move. It was crazy. I finally convinced myself that I was dreaming or crazy or both. I managed to fall back asleep and when I woke up to daylight,, everything was good with my eyes. It really was scary.

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The Corner Blog
@ Magic & Main Studios


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